The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

date Jul 24, 2017
authors Marie Kondo
reading time 12 mins

Tidying up clutter == tidying up life – life transforming

but basically, when you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too. As a result, you can see quite clearly what you need in life and what you don’t, and what you should and shouldn’t do.

Tidying has never been “taught”

I’m sure most of us have been scolded for not tidying up our rooms, but how many of our parents consciously taught us how to tidy as part of our upbringing? Our parents demanded that we clean up our rooms, but they, too, had never been trained in how to do that. When it comes to tidying, we are all self-taught.

In one go vs little by little

Tidying brings visible results. Tidying never lies. The ultimate secret of success is this: If you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mind-set.

2 decisions

Tidying in the end is just a physical act. The work involved can be broadly divided into two kinds: deciding whether or not to dispose of something and deciding where to put it.

Cluttering == taking away attention from what matters

When a room becomes cluttered, the cause is more than just physical. Visible mess helps distract us from the true source of the disorder. The act of cluttering is really an instinctive reflex that draws our attention away from the heart of an issue.

Storage == illusion that clutter is solved

Tidy by category, not by place

When we disperse storage of a particular item throughout the house and tidy one place at a time, we can never grasp the overall volume and therefore can never finish. To escape this negative spiral, tidy by category, not by place.

People who can’t stay tidy can be categorized into just three types:

  • “can’t-throw-it-away” type
  • “can’t-put-it-back” type
  • “first-two-combined” type ~90% of people

Make it a spring cleaning!!

Tidying is a special event. Don’t do it every day.

Easy daily tidying == putting back things in their place

Conversely, once you have put your house in order, tidying will be reduced to the very simple task of putting things back where they belong. In fact, this becomes an unconscious habit.


It’s important to achieve this degree of concreteness when visualizing your ideal lifestyle.

Reasons for discarding

One is to discard things when they cease being functional—for example, when something breaks down beyond repair or when part of a set is broken. Another is to discard things that are out of date, such as clothes that are no longer in fashion or things related to an event that has passed.

Criteria of choosing to discard

Through this experience, I came to the conclusion that the best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge.

Physical things

In addition to the physical value of things, there are three other factors that add value to our belongings: function, information, and emotional attachment.

Trouble discarding…

People have trouble discarding things that they could still use (functional value), that contain helpful information (informational value), and that have sentimental ties (emotional value). When these things are hard to obtain or replace (rarity), they become even harder to part with.

Sequence of discarding

The best sequence is this: clothes first, then books, papers, komono (miscellany), and lastly, mementos. This order has also proven to be the most efficient in terms of the level of difficulty for the subsequent task of storing.

Keep discarding out of sight from family members

Keeping your garbage out of sight is considerate. It also protects your family from acquiring more than they need or can enjoy.

Do not discard for others especially family…

Getting rid of other people’s things without permission demonstrates a sad lack of common sense. Although such stealth tactics generally succeed and the items discarded are never missed, the risk of losing your family’s trust when you are caught is far too great. Besides, it just isn’t right.

Don’t push people to take discarded things

If you want to give something away, don’t push people to take it unconditionally or pressure them by making them feel guilty. Find out in advance what they like, and if you find something that fits those criteria, then and only then should you show it to them.

Thanks you clothing!

In fact, that particular article of clothing has already completed its role in your life, and you are free to say, “Thank you for giving me joy when I bought you,” or “Thank you for teaching me what doesn’t suit me,” and let it go.

Demoting to home clothes does not work…

Pilled cardigans, outdated blouses, dresses that didn’t suit me or that I just never wore—it wasn’t long before I had developed the habit of demoting clothes like these to “loungewear” rather than discarding them. Yet nine out of ten times I never wore them.

Wearing that sparks joy!

Precisely because no one is there to see you, it makes far more sense to reinforce a positive self-image by wearing clothes you love. The same goes for pajamas. If you are a woman, try wearing something elegant as nightwear.

Fold clothes!

When we take our clothes in our hands and fold them neatly, we are, I believe, transmitting energy, which has a positive effect on our clothes. Folding properly pulls the cloth taut and erases wrinkles, and makes the material stronger and more vibrant.

Folding to spot frays and other wear outs

In addition, folding clothes after they have been washed and dried is an opportunity to really notice them in all their detail. For example, we might spot places where the cloth has frayed or see that a certain piece of clothing is becoming worn out.

See every item folded

The goal should be to organize the contents so that you can see where every item is at a glance, just as you can see the spines of the books on your bookshelves. The key is to store things standing up rather than laid flat.

Keep in drawers

This is the basic principle that will ultimately allow your clothes to be stacked on edge, side by side, so that when you pull open your drawer you can see the edge of every item inside.

Left to right

To do so, hang heavy items on the left side of the closet and light items on the right. Heavy items include those with length, those made from heavier material, and those that are dark in color. As you move toward the right side of the closet, the length of the clothing grows shorter, the material thinner, and the color lighter.

Folded socks

Store the socks on edge, just as you did for clothing. You’ll be amazed at how little space you need compared to your “potato ball days,” and you’ll notice your socks breathing a sigh of relief at being untied.

Storing seasonal clothes is outdated

The custom of storing seasonal clothes is behind the times. With the introduction of air-conditioning and heating, our homes are less subject to the weather outside. It’s not uncommon now to see people wearing T-shirts indoors even in winter.

Drawers are magic!

If you are planning to buy storage units in the near future, I recommend that you get a set of drawers instead. Be careful not to bury clothes in the cupboard even if they are off-season.

Haha nice :)

Open the drawer and run your hands over the contents. Let them know you care and look forward to wearing them when they are next in season. This kind of “communication” helps your clothes stay vibrant and keeps your relationship with them alive longer.

Book categories

If there are too many books to arrange on the floor all at one time, I ask my clients to divide them into four broad General (books you read for pleasure) Practical (references, cookbooks, etc.) Visual (photograph collections, etc.) Magazines

Digital books solve that…

The most common reason for not discarding a book is “I might read it again.” Take a moment to count the number of favorite books that you have actually read more than once. How many are there?

Discarding to find out how much you like it…

Only by discarding it will you be able to test how passionate you are about that subject. If your feelings don’t change after discarding it, then you’re fine as is.

Recognizing and remembering actual info

Recently, I have noticed that having fewer books actually increases the impact of the information I read. I recognize necessary information much more easily.

Papers… also scanning solves it. But delete them after a few years

For this reason, I recommend you dispose of anything that does not fall into one of three currently in use, needed for a limited period of time, or must be kept indefinitely.

Inbox or archival - a little bit GTD

My filing method is extremely simple. I divide them into two papers to be saved and papers that need to be dealt with.

Essentials, but no joy

Infrequently used papers include insurance policies, guarantees, and leases. Unfortunately, these must be kept automatically regardless of the fact that they spark no particular joy in your heart.

Discard after each seminar

Thus the real material is the seminar itself, and it must be experienced live. When you attend a seminar, do so with the resolve to part with every handout distributed.

Saving electrical appliance packages… serves no purpose

Some people save the boxes for electrical appliances because they think they can get more money for the appliances if they ever sell them. This, however, is a waste. If you consider the rent or mortgage you pay, turning your space into a storage shed for empty boxes costs you more than what you could earn selling an appliance in a box.

Living in the present moment - mindfulness

We live in the present. No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important.

Gratefulness for lives moments

When I looked at each item again, I realized that I had lived those moments to the fullest and I was able to thank my keepsakes for the joy they gave me at the time. When I threw them away, I felt like I was confronting my past for the first time in my life.”

Treasure the person, not the thing

It is not our memories but the person we have become because of those past experiences that we should treasure. This is the lesson these keepsakes teach us when we sort them. The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.

Google photos!!

Because photos tend to emerge from the most unexpected places when we are sorting other categories, it is much more efficient to put them in a designated spot every time you find one and deal with them all at the very end.

How much is enough?

I call this the “just-right click point.” Interestingly, once you have passed this point, you’ll find that the amount you own never increases. And that is precisely why you will never rebound.

Seeing your true values

As you put your house in order and decrease your possessions, you’ll see what your true values are, what is really important to you in your life. But don’t focus on reducing, or on efficient storage methods, for that matter.

No round shapes

Besides, round shapes take up too much room and create wasted space, which makes them unsuitable for storage.

Simple Categories

You can even categorize more loosely than that. Instead of dividing your things by detailed type, use broad similarities in material, such as “cloth-like,” “paper-like,” and “things that are electrical,” as your criteria and choose one place for each of these.

Ownership of a single person

To concentrate the belongings of each person in one spot is the most effective way for keeping storage tidy.

Having your own space

Having your own space makes you happy. Once you feel that it belongs to you personally, you want to keep it tidy.

Storage should reduce effort to put things away

A common mistake many people make is to decide where to store things on the basis of where it’s easiest to take them out. This approach is a fatal trap. Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong. Therefore, storage should reduce the effort needed to put things away, not the effort needed to get them out.